LinkedIn vs. Xing: The Battle for DACH

Melonie Dodaro  •  LinkedIn

LinkedIn vs Xing: The Battle for DACH

LinkedIn is currently competing with Xing for market dominance in German speaking countries. Although LinkedIn and social selling are my primary business focus, I work with clients globally so the conversation of LinkedIn vs Xing has been coming up, especially since I recently relocated to Europe.

In this article, I’ll cover how Xing compares to LinkedIn, the differences between the two, where Xing is dominating the market and answer the question which one is better?

A Comparison of LinkedIn vs Xing

Founded in 2003 in Hamburg, Germany, Xing is the leading network in the DACH region, D – Deutsch (Germany), A – Österreich (Austria), CH – Schweiz (Switzerland), and is, therefore, suitable for members who are mainly active in German-speaking countries. The site is good for professional service providers, executives and for those wishing to position themselves as experts. Companies looking for these kinds of professionals will find them on Xing.

LinkedIn is an international platform, more suited for professional service providers, executives, entrepreneurs or companies (and their employees) who do business transnationally or internationally. If you’re looking for professionals and executives, you’ll find a wider range of options on LinkedIn.

As of May 2017, Xing had 10.1 million members in Germany, plus another 900,000 thousand in Switzerland and 800,000 in Austria. Another 950,000 students are counted separately, totaling about 12.75 million members in the DACH region. By Quarter 2 of 2020, the total number of Xing users have jumped to over 19.5 million.

In those same countries, LinkedIn runs a little behind Xing, boasting a little more than 10 million members through June 2017. LinkedIn has jumped to just under 15 million users for Germany, Austria and Switzerland by mid 2020.

LinkedIn vs Xing: The Battle for DACH

LinkedIn vs Xing: Key Differences

According to the 2017 Active Sourcing Report, Xing was still in the lead in Germany when it came to finding new employees for companies through active sourcing. In addition, HR consultants and corporate head-hunters are also happy to work with Xing to achieve the best results in the DACH region.

Xing continues to be a very strong business network in German-speaking countries with a focus on Germany, so individuals looking for positions as a specialist or manager in a German-based company should consider having a Xing profile.

A huge difference in the two competitors surfaces when looking at the international environment in which more and more German employees are moving into. Many companies have international offices or employ employees from around the world and are therefore more likely to be found on LinkedIn because it is international and the world’s largest business network. LinkedIn has over a half billion members in more than 200 countries and regions, making it a huge talent pool for international companies.

One researcher examined how many employees from the DAX (Deutscher Aktienindex – German stock index) group of companies are represented on Xing or LinkedIn. The results were staggering: In 2016, about 820,000 DAX employees were on LinkedIn, and just under 240,000 were on Xing. The numbers would indicate that anyone who works or wants to work in a DAX company can’t ignore LinkedIn and must have at the very least profiles on both sites.

One other difference: While you can use the advanced search without a premium profile on LinkedIn, Xing requires the user to have the paid profile.

In 2016, about 820,000 DAX Group employees were on LinkedIn, and just under 240,000 were on Xing.

– Source: Active Sourcing Report 2017

Which one is better LinkedIn vs Xing?

Better – like beauty – may be in the eye of the beholder and depend upon whom you ask. For many Germans, where Xing still dominates, the debate of LinkedIn vs Xing varies. One writer says LinkedIn simply tries to make its largely American format fit in Germany, while “failing to adapt” to the culture and sensibilities of the German people. He writes: “LinkedIn puts the American way of conducting business in a nutshell: clever communication, great stories, powerful individuals and a sense for the broader picture. Fast and thrilling, ambitious and energetic, the way to do business with Western nations.”

That doesn’t work in Germany, he says, where “People take their time to meet with you, they’re curious about exact functions and mechanics of your product. Germans don’t trust in big words and attitude. Our customer meetings have as much to do with an exciting sales call as meeting a friend at the coffeehouse has.”

He says it shows the cultural discrepancies between Germany and the U.S. and that while Germans might accept the American way of doing business, they’re certainly not embracing it for themselves.

Xing does what LinkedIn fails to do, he says, by understanding and embracing the German soul. By taking it slow and expressing the local character it’s simply the more approachable solution. He likens it to selling more Volkswagens than Cadillacs, even though they’re priced the same.

On the flip side is a February, 2018 article, entitled “Goodbye, Xing: The Growing Success of LinkedIn in Germany,” in which the author says LinkedIn is now growing faster than Xing, calling the American company “a success story in Germany,” even though Xing still has about two million more users in Germany than LinkedIn does. In 2017, LinkedIn grew to 11 million members in the DACH countries, while Xing reaches 13 million in the same region.

LinkedIn vs Xing: The Battle for DACH

LinkedIn also launched a new service for German-speaking members in 2017 called “Career Tips and Mentoring.” It allows members to receive career-related advice from other users and even be partnered with mentors who have completed similar training, have the same skills or have worked in an industry of interest over a longer period of time.

Since July 2012, LinkedIn has also utilized a user interface that’s similar to Facebook’s, including a main feed displaying news, jobs and notifications based on a user’s connections, interests and subscriptions. By contrast, Xing’s home page is fairly simple and plain in comparison.

The verdict: Which network you concentrate on is entirely up to you, but I recommend having a profile on both networks – especially if you do business in the DACH region.

However, if you’re looking for a career change or to do business outside the DACH region, LinkedIn is the clear choice due to its size, the number of countries it’s in and the number of languages it is available in as well.

Is the end approaching for Xing?

Microsoft’s 2016 acquisition of LinkedIn could spell trouble for Xing and rumors of a buyout have swirled ever since. While Xing remains the market leader in Germany, LinkedIn has already overtaken it in Austria and is twice as big as Xing in Switzerland.

With the Microsoft deal, LinkedIn gained additional financing and access to millions of people who could potentially join its network. And, while Xing is still leading in the DACH region, the picture looks very different on a global scale. For example, in the United Kingdom alone, LinkedIn has more members than Xing has worldwide. The debate of LinkedIn vs Xing of LinkedIn vs Xing doesn’t even exist outside of the DACH region.

As for the competitive threat of LinkedIn in Germany, one European economist drew a parallel in a cautionary tale of what happened when Facebook came to Germany. In 2006, he wrote, there was only one really successful social network in Germany. It was called “StudiVZ” or “SchülerVZ.” Everything went well for the unchallenged German market leader and its user numbers were rising rapidly.

Facebook even offered four-percent of its shares to take over StudiVZ, but the company’s owner refused, confident that his site would prevail. That turned out to be a costly mistake as StudiVZ subsequently lost more and more users while Facebook conquered the German market.

Facebook offered the same features as StudiVZ – and even more. Users on StudiVZ were only able to connect to German users, whereas Facebook users could connect to the whole world. In 2013, Stefan von Holtzbrinck buried StudiVZ while Facebook exceeded the 25 million user mark in Germany.

How is LinkedIn trying to grow in countries where Xing has been dominant?

LinkedIn is growing in the German-speaking DACH nations by offering a product with wider appeal and a lower priced premium package than its competitor, Xing. In an era of globalization, LinkedIn’s powerful and large network gives both employers and prospective employees a larger network of people to connect with for job changes, business deals and network connections.

LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator is another powerful tool for generating leads for B2B companies. Potential buyers can be searched on the basis of specific criteria – such as function or previous experience. The search then throws out individual suggestions. You can then take a closer look and learn more details about the potential customer. There is also the possibility to deposit individual keywords or notes.

LinkedIn vs Xing: The Battle for DACH

Those looking for similar opportunities to generate reach and leads using Xing will be disappointed. While specific news can be shared on a corporate page, these posts are less prominently displayed to users in their timelines. And, this is also reflected in the number of clicks. A company page on Xing with more than 1,000 followers receives similar click numbers as the same company on LinkedIn that has just over 250 followers. Xing also has the ability to show ads, however, the targeting is not as detailed as it is on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn also employs editorial teams in Germany in an effort to boost its numbers in the DACH regions. The teams – which operate in six different languages – help users come up with topics to explore and support them with the structure and language of a text, according to the editorial head of the German-speaking region.

The teams additionally oversee the 500 influencers worldwide who regularly post on the site. Those influencers are well-known – and unpaid – personalities or experts from a wide range of fields and in Germany, they include the CEO of Daimlar as well as other corporate executives.

Although Xing is not used in many countries throughout the world, it still is the market leader in the DACH countries of Europe. Closing fast, LinkedIn seems poised to soon pass Xing in Germany as it already has in the DACH nations of Austria and Switzerland. While the battle of LinkedIn vs Xing may continue, the war is over, with LinkedIn the clear winner.

If you’re in the DACH region, I’d love to hear from you, how do you feel about LinkedIn vs Xing?

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